Summary: This message focuses on the importance of natural and spiritual reputations and how those reputations are developed.
Our Reputations Precedes Us
The word “reputation” is defined as “an estimation in which a person or thing is commonly held.” The key word in the definition is “estimation” coming from the word estimate which means to “form an opinion of.” Put simply, a reputation is an estimate and/or judgment made about someone or something in which that person or thing becomes known for. The reputation can be based on fact or fiction.
The title of my message this morning is “Our Reputations Precedes Us.” As we have begun a new year with new opportunities and goals, what people know of us will often impact how those opportunities play out and how we are able to reach our goals. Our reputations, good or bad, often precede us – meaning that people will often know something about us before they ever meet us. If someone refers you to a job the potential employer will want to know why you’re being recommended. When the person tells your story, what they say about you now becomes a part of your reputation with that employer. When you interview and are offered the job, you are now in a position to confirm your reputation. How this works in the business world is no different as to how this works in the spiritual world. I will speak more about this shortly.
Remember I told you that a reputation can be based on fact or fiction? Consider this question: What physical image of a man comes to your mind when I say the name Samson? Did you think about some muscle bound man who was extremely strong? Did you think about a mighty warrior? Most likely just the name itself made you think about someone who was strong and mighty. This is what we think about when we hear the name because of the one who originally had the name. Samson was one of the judges of Israel who was responsible for delivering the Children of Israel out of the hands of the Philistines. This name is so powerful that people name their pets this name to signify the power of the pet (for example a large dog). When someone hears the name they think about power, strength and might. They see in their minds someone who is very strong and has plenty of muscles. Everything we think about when it comes to the name Samson is based on the “reputation” of the biblical Samson who was a one man army in and of himself. So let’s review some verses in the Bible relating to Samson demonstrating his strength and then I want to ask you another question. Turn with me Judges Chapter fourteen.
I. The Strength of Samson
As I stated a few minutes ago, when we think of Samson we think about a muscle bound mighty warrior who was extremely strong. In Judges Chapter thirteen we read about the angel appearing to Samson’s parents letting them know that they would have a son who would be a Nazarite – dedicated to God from his birth to his death. His mother was forbidden from eating anything unclean or drinking any wine or strong drink while she was pregnant with him nor was a razor ever to cut his hair after he was born. This is what was told his parents. Notice there was no description given of how he would look or how strong he would be. Let’s read some verses when Samson strength was on display.
Judges 14:5-6: “Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath; and behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand; but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.”
Judges 14:19: “And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house.”
Judges 15:14-15: “And when he came unto Lehi the Philistines shouted against him; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put for his hand, and took it and slew a thousand men therewith.
Judges 16:17, 20, 28-30: “That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, ‘There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb; if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man….And she said, ‘The Philistines be upon thee Samson.’ And he awoke out of his sleep and said, ‘I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him….And Samson called unto the Lord, and said ‘O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, ‘Let me die with the Philistines.’ And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.”